Multitasking in my very own iPad.

A busy day in the barn

When I’m doing car maintenance I usually go about it in a very linear fashion. I disassemble, label and lay out parts, keep notes, etc. I rarely interrupt a job, as I prefer to focus my attention 100% on the task at hand. In other words, I prefer to single-task. Today however, I had a bunch of “routine” tasks to do.

  • The TDI needs new brake pads, as I could hear one of the rears making noise.
  • Sue’s CRD required a fill-up and an oil change.
  • I had a batch of BioDiesel to cook.

So today I went out to my little private idaho, my man cave, my … iPad … and I multi-tasked. Brake jobs are fairly simple and frankly monotonous. As are oil changes (especially now that I have my “sucka!”). Making BioDiesel is something I do even more often, but it does require more concentration.

Unlike the latter two, there are no “wait states” in a brake job, BUT even with a lift it is dirty, uncomfortable work, so I took a break from brakes at the completion of every corner, to wander off and do something else in the task list.

This is the little Diesel I cut my mechanical teeth on back in the 80s. John Meister's new-old 1981 VW Rabbit Diesel Pickup

An enforced break also came when my friend and BioDiesel co-op member dropped by with his “new” truck, a 1981 VW Rabbit pickup! Diesel of course. It was cool to see that old 45 HP machine under the hood, as it was also in my first car, a 1980 Diesel Rabbit. Nick came out and helped us unload, and load John up with two 20 gallon barrels of home-brew.

The brake pads of the TDI have a sensor built into the left-front side that set off an idiot light on the dash. This light has never come on in my car as of all the pads, this corner had the most left on them. Go figure. The inside pads on both rears were almost gone. The OEM pads back there have a subtle change of pad material in them that makes a grating noise when the pads are worn to that point. This is how I found out it was time to change them rather than the sensor/light combo. I visually check them when I have the wheels off, but will admit to never looking at the inside rear pads, as they are practically invisible, being almost completely obscured by the calipers. I figured if one pad was worn to noise-making I’d change ALL of them. The car has 150,000+ miles on it, so worth the cost of eight brake pads.

I cooked the home-brew, and changed Sue’s CRD oil with the MityVac between the corners of the TDI. The wheels were back on, and the CRD back in the garage in time to watch the Vancouver Canucks beat the Toronto Maple Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada. After the game I shut off the BioDiesel processor and had a nice dinner. I’ll take the TDI out for a test drive tomorrow.

It sure is nice to have my own “iPad” to work in.

Twitter as a Marketing tool: Failure

Twitter Marketing Failure

Twitter is an amazing communications channel. It serves to maintain several types of communications. Here’s how I use it:

  • Keep a sort of running conversation going with my friends, many of whom are literally scattered around the globe.
  • Follow news, as it is shared and interpreted by friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.
  • Gain insight into things I’m interested in, such as Datacenters, the Network Operations side of the Internet, Web Hosting, Cloud Computing, Technology news, Apple, the Automotive Industry, Collector Cars, Photography, and the Pacific Northwest.

At work we use Twitter as an out-of-band comms channel with our customers. We post notifications of scheduled maintenance, new support blog posts, and real-time updates when there is any sort of an issue going on within our facility, such as UPS maintenance.

Twitter is great for items that are “important now” like that. Where I have seen Twitter consistently fail, is marketing to new customers via responses. Usually this is a Twitter API driven “bot” (automated software) that responds with a pat bit of sales-speak to any Tweet that makes mention of them, their product/service, or posts a URL that links to them in any way.

The image above is an example of one such miserable, fail-prone auto-replies. I posted a URL pointing to an article on TechFlash, which is a local news blog, covering the Seattle-area technology & business beat. The article in question pointed out the irony of a local Tech Exec, being swept up in a long-term criminal investigation concerning suspected organized crime involved in a Seattle strip club. The exec in question committed perjury with regard to having “Clintonian” relations with a stripper at said club. The irony of course was the same exec’s on-stage demo of their software which allows people to perform background checks of people they meet, on the fly using their mobile phone. The criminal history feature of this software is called “Sleaze Detector.” The layers of irony here are too good to pass up, so I sent the tweet.

The employer (which by the way has a history and reputation in Seattle of seemingly sleazy executives) of this seemingly sleazy executive responded to my tweet with a discount on their software!

This is why human beings are unlikely to lose their jobs to software over the long run. Software lacks judgement, and can not detect sarcasm or irony.

Wonderful Time Lapse – Vancouver

As regular readers know, I enjoy creating time lapse photography. Occasionally though I see work so good that makes me want to quit, as I am obviously not worthy. Reader Yvo Van Doorn posted the link to this video on twitter. It blows me away.

This is professional-grade work. Mine by comparison in child’s play.

I love Vancouver. In the 1990s I spent a LOT of time there, as I was working as a BCAHA on-ice official (Referee & Lineman in ice hockey) and Sue was playing on a Women’s hockey team based in Lynn Valley in North Vancouver. It seemed we drove up every weekend for something. We live equidistant between Sea-Tac & YVR, and I used to prefer flying out of Vancouver, especially to Europe, since there are so many more flights to & from Vancouver compared to Seattle. 9/11 and the massive border crossing hassles put an end to our bi-national lifestyle. Sue still attends many horse-related events in BC, but I rarely drive up except to attend a couple of Jaguar club slalom events each summer.

I ponder what impact the winter games will have on this city I love so much. I hope it doesn’t spoil it too much.

Wall Street Sheep bleat to Steve Jobs’ tune.

I don’t have anything to say about Apple’s new “iPad” device. Unlike technology pundits, I would prefer to get my hands on one before I start spouting opinions about it.

What I would like to point out however is Wall Street’s view of today’s product announcement. I noted that when the name was announced AAPL stock nosedived a bit, then slowly climbed as features were explained. Later when the price was announced (at a bit more than half where the pre-announcement speculation put the price tag) the stock marched right back up again. In my twitter stream it seemed only myself and Kevin van Haaren were commenting on the stock market’s reaction.

There are at least two months to go before the (real, not stock) market can begin to asses what this product can and will do. It will be interesting to observe the stock along the way. I generally have a very dim view of what Wall Street analysts think, as I see them of incapable of real analysis, completely out of touch with the real world, and far more prone to herd mentality than they’re willing to admit. Meanwhile, I wish Apple luck here though, as a customer and shareholder.

Wonderful Noise

Reader Rafe Saber pointed me to this video on YouTube. I’m quite familiar with it, as I own the DVD, but was unaware that Speed/VBD has posted them online. This series of videos has stunning production values and the sound especially is a delight. They’ve lost quite a lot of that quality in the YouTube transmogrifying process (which destroys all video quality!) but even so, the brilliant and wonderful noise of the XK engine still shines through in the first fifty seconds of this clip. I could listen to that sound all day long.

Car Photo of the Day

Name that car.

This might be an easy one, and given the time I’m posting it perhaps it will give folks in the time zone represented by the plate a head start on guessing the make & model.

It was captured at a staging area of a TSD segment at the New England 1000 vintage rally a few years back on the shores of Lake Champlain.

The position of the feet in the frame for some odd reason evoke the cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” album, and no… nothing in-frame was on fire when I took this.